The Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists convened in its 170th annual session hosted by Burke’s Union Church in Blackwater, VA.
The history of what is now called Burke's Union Church goes back to what was originally called Locust Grove Church. This apparently was one of the churches in the Mulberry Gap Association of United Baptists from which The Eastern District Association was formed. The records indicate that the Mulberry Gap Association was held at Zion in 1847.
Zion was one of the original churches of the Eastern District Association when formed in 1848 and hosted the association in 1885, 1902 and 1911. It may have hosted the association from 1850 to 1880, but records are not available of this time period. The association came to this location once again in 1929 with Elder E.A. Robinette, the pastor of the host church and moderator of the association, preaching the introductory sermon and Elder H.S. Laster as the alternate. This time the church had a new name, because around 1920, the doctrine of "No Eternal Punishment to the Wicked" began to be advocated by some in the church. This resulted in a division among the people which, in 1923, caused the association to reject this doctrine and those who believed and taught it. These were excluded from fellowship of the church, while those who believed in the doctrine as it had always been taught continued as part of the association. On August 11, 1926, the property the church now sits on was deeded to the Primitive Baptist Church of Canton by Isaac and Mary Willis. In 1927, a new building was erected, and the name of the church was changed to Burke's Union in honor of Elder W.H. Burke who was instrumental in the fight against the false doctrine and stood firm in the true faith.
Elder Burke served as clerk of the church from 1922 through 1930. In 1931, Sister Lona Robinette was elected clerk where she continued as long as her health would permit. She served the church for approximately 59 years.
Some of those who were active members in the early years of Burke's Union were: C.W. McPherson, Andy Rhoton, Emmett Rhoton, Vastine Roller, Whit and Rebecca Roller, and Charles Roller who later became a minster and lead an effort to build and organize Roller's Chapel Church. Other family names were: the Marion Robinette's, the Jessie P. Robinette's, Bledsoe's, Speers' and Sturgill's.
The list of pastors seems rather long, partly because they have nearly always used two men together as co-pastors since the name changed to Burke's Union. Some others (not listed in order as they served) include: Elders J.H. Sybert, Alex Willis, Logan Willis, Ben Hill, Coy Lawson, Howard Sybert, Carl Lawson, Clarence Arnold, Lloyd McMillian, Bernard Banks, Coy Willis, Echol Legg, Willie Wilson, R.C. Whittemore, Bobby Williams, Gary Carter, Clifford Williams, Corbet Bowen, James Robinson, Roger Trent, Scott Tipton, Bazzle Manis, Virgil Lipe, David Stapleton, Tyler Stapleton, and our current pastor, David Parsons. We would like to thank these men for their concern, care, and dedication that they have shown to the cause of Christ and to the service to the church.
The church burned in the early 40's. At first the members were very sad and upset thinking they would never be able to rebuild the church building. No regular meetings were dismissed. Services were held at Brother Emmett Rhoton's home and under a big oak tree which stood not far from the where the church once stood. In approximately three months, a new building was built on the original foundation, because the people had a mind to work. Surely God blessed them with His Holy Spirit as He still does today. Since the Association last met here in 1991, the Lord has been so good to us and has greatly blessed us. In 1992, a fellowship building was erected. We were blessed with city water being installed in 2006, and the property on the east side of the church was purchased in 2014. We give God all the honor and glory for everything that has been accomplished over the years. He has been so good to us. Without Him we are nothing!
God blessed His children with beautiful fall morning and a cloudless sky to cover the grounds as the 170th session of the Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists convened at Burke’s Union Church. Sister Zula McCullough and Brother Marcel Bledsoe led the congregation in singing several songs of praise to our Most High God. Walking and talking with Christ, the supernal One, won’t it be wonderful there? Jesus has prepared a happy dwelling place for all who look above and trust His matchless grace. Yes, singing His praises all day long, I’m going that way.
Elder Terry Sizemore, as moderator, welcomed everyone to the 170th annual gathering of the Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Elder Sizemore called attention to an Elder from among us that has gone on to be present with the Lord. Elder Bill VanHoose is and will be greatly missed. Another minister who left this world last year is Jimmy Jarnigan, who was part of our Association for many years.
The congregation sang the Association’s standard song, “Brethren, We Have Met Again”, led by Sister Zula. Since we met twelve months ago, some have left this world below. And when our work is done below, then to Glory we shall go.
The Moderator asked all ministers to sign the minister’s book, including ministers from other associations and church affiliations. He reminded each delegate to get their ribbon for the afternoon service.
The moderator reminded everyone to turn in church letters, obituaries, and financial contributions. The Letter Committee for 2022 was appointed beforehand, consisting of Danny Lawson (chairman), Ronnie Johnson, Dennis Stewart, and David Horton (alternate).
Elder David Parsons, the pastor of Burke’s Union, came forward to welcome everyone on behalf of the host church. Asking that anyone who is lost would accept Jesus and that everyone worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth this week.
The moderator appointed the Committee on Religious Exercises, which consists of Steve Hunt (chairman), Gale McCullough, and Bradley Bowen.
We were blessed with special singing by Bradley Brown, then Sister Aubra Hill. When we see Jesus coming in Glory, we’ll understand it all by and by. My Savior’s precious blood will save your soul from sin.
Testimonies were shared and prayer requests were made for the lost, the sick, Vicki Jones, Lewis Baker, those affected by the recent storm, Nick Davis, Daniel Hurd, Jim Bowlin, Brenda Bowlin, Fred Brown, Frank and Juanita Gilliam, Susie Campbell, those dealing with the loss of loved ones, Elder Carter Hagar, Jim and Loretta Emery, Evelyn Elliot, Earl Dodson, Barbara Taylor, Sherrie Brown, Pat Hammonds, Jerry Scalf, Billy Jack Johnson, our nation, and many unspoken requests shown by uplifted hands. Brother Joe Robinette led us to the throne of grace with a humble prayer, asking God to touch the requests and bless each one here, especially anyone in attendance that might not know Jesus as their Savior.
Elder Terry Sizemore then shared a song that was on his heart. It’s still blood of Jesus that brings victory to me.
Having been chosen to preach the introductory sermon, Elder David Parsons came to the stand, opening with a song; Brethren, we have met to worship. Elder Parsons read from the 26th chapter of Exodus, verses 31 through 33, expounding upon the vail, which God intended as a separation, as it divided between the holy place and the most holy. Our separation from God began in the garden through Adam’s sin, but we were reunited by the blood of Jesus Christ being applied to our hearts. Being washed in the blood of the Lamb is the only way to have access to the Holy of Holies, but it’s not in the tabernacle. By Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary, the vail was rent in twain, so that we could be redeemed from our fallen state and have fellowship with the great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God.
Elder Burnice Sybert, chosen as the alternate, followed, preaching concerning the Day of Atonement and what took place behind the vail. The high priest would be dressed in white, and the two goats would be brought. One would be killed as a sin offering and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. Hands would be laid on the head of the scapegoat, as it would bear the sins of the people and be let go in the wilderness. But that vail was rent in twain, from top to bottom, that we might have access to God the Father. Jesus, our High Priest, fulfilled the Day of Atonement by taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, being smitten with hands, taken out of the city, and hung on the cross, a holy, pure, and righteous sacrifice. Nothing can take away sin but the wonderful blood of Jesus.
We were adjourned for lunch with fellowship and a song of praise.
Brothers Bradley Brown and Marcel Bledsoe led the congregation in singing praises to our Loving God to open the afternoon service. O they tell me that He smiles on His children there in that lovely land of unclouded day. Surely, God is smiling on us on today. There’s never a care when Jesus is there.
Elder Sizemore welcomed everyone to the afternoon service as he thanked the host churches for the wonderful lunch. All those in attendance enjoyed the food and fellowship.
Further blessings were bestowed upon us with special singing from Danita Dodson and the Copper Creek singers. Precious indeed is my Savior to me since I have been redeemed.
Prayer requests were made for Roger Manring, Pauline King, Clifton Horne, Dan and Virgie Cross, Maxie Holland, Ruby Robinette, and many hands were raised signifying unspoken requests, along with several testimonies and praises to God for answered prayers. Elder Mike Fullington led us with a humble prayer, asking God to Bless this Association meeting, to heal the sick, and to save the lost.
Brother Danny Lawson, Chairman of the Committee on Church Letters, came forward with testimony and to give the report of our state and standing. The letter for Blue Springs (Hiltons) has not been received, but that letter was completed and is expected to be here tomorrow. With 35 churches total, it was motioned, seconded, and voted to accept the recommendations of the committee and seat those delegates duly elected or appointed by their respective churches as the voting body of the association.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted that the delegation be seated in order to conduct the business of the association.
The moderator asked for nominations to serve as moderator pro-tem during the election of the association officials. Elder Oscar Irvin was nominated. No other nominations were made. It was motioned, seconded, and voted for nominations to cease. Elder Irvin came forward to serve during the election, beginning by speaking of the importance of the Association and encouraging attendance.
The moderator asked for nominations to serve as clerk and treasurer of the association. Brother Kevin Hale was nominated, and it was seconded for him to serve as clerk and treasurer. It was motioned and seconded for nominations to cease. Through the vote, he will serve for the ensuing year.
The moderator asked for nominations to serve as moderator of the association. Elder Terry Sizemore was nominated, and it was seconded for him to serve as moderator of the association. It was motioned and seconded for nominations to cease. Through the vote, Elder Sizemore will serve as moderator for the ensuing year.
Elder Sizemore humbly thanked the delegation for the honor and privilege to serve and for their vote of confidence. We pray the Good Lord will help us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in fulfilling our duties to the Association.
The moderator asked for a motion and second to allow him to appoint all committees necessary to carry on the business of the association. It was motioned, seconded, and voted to allow the moderator to appoint any and all such committees.
The moderator then appointed the following committees:
Committee on Electrical and PA System: Delmer McPherson (chairman), Scott Mellons, Eric McPherson, Clifford Bledsoe, Danny Lawson, Adam Lawson, and Curtis Hale.
Committee on Newly Constituted Churches: Ministers: Roger VanHoose (chairman), John Banks, Hunter Hensley, and Roger Manring; Deacons: Earl Dodson, Gary Short, and Roy Jones.
Committee on Obituaries: Mike Fullington (chairman), Joseph Robinette, and Robert Brown
Committee on Arrangements and/or Queries: Ministers: Oscar Irvin (chairman), Scott Tipton, Kevin Cross, Chris Salley, Jason Robinette, Jerry Johnson, and Gary Hall.
Brother Steve Hunt, chairman of the Religious Exercises Committee, came forward with testimony and to give the committee’s report.
The moderator reminded the delegation that Excused Absence forms are available at the clerk’s desk, as well as a Community Service form.
Brother Delmer McPherson, chairman of the Electrical and PA System Committee, came forward to give the report, welcoming everyone to his home church of Burke’s Union. Brother McPherson gave an update on the idea for the Association to get service for a mobile hotspot to be able to live-stream the Association meetings. It did not work out as we had hoped. He also brought to the attention of the Association that a new computer is needed for recording the meetings.
Discussion took place concerning a new computer for the Electrical and PA System Committee. A recommendation was made to allow the committee to purchase a new computer. It was motioned, seconded and voted that the committee be allowed to purchase a new computer.
Brother Danny Lawson gave a report on the mobile hotspot, stating that it was much more expensive than anticipated and would not be pursued.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to allow the clerk to replenish the necessary forms and supplies to properly perform his duties.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to have all things which are standard printed in the minutes.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to allow the clerk $2,000 in appreciation for his services.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to allow the moderator $1,000 in appreciation for his services.
Elder David Parsons, of the host church, came forward to discuss the use of the propane heaters inside the tent at night in lieu of the old kerosene heaters. They have been successful in keeping the tent warm and preventing condensation from forming overnight in the tent. Burke’s Union will donate the heaters that mount to a propane tank.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to accept the heaters and the host church will furnish the propane needed.
The clerk reported all financial transactions of the year to the delegation.
The business being concluded, the delegation was dismissed in prayer, led by Brother Ralph Lawson, Jr. until Friday morning, September 30, 2022.
The Lord provided another beautiful morning to start the second day of the 170th association. Sister Zula McCullough opened the service by singing “Lord I want to be an overcomer.” She and Marcel led the congregation in singing praises to God as His children gave Him Glory by shouting and raising hands. Christ for me doth care, fore anywhere is home if He is only there. Saints will sing redemption’s story with their voices clear and strong when the redeemed are gathering in. Why should I long for the world and its sorrows when Heaven holds all to me. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. Praise God for His Amazing Grace!
Elder Sizemore welcomed everyone to today’s service, thanking God for welcoming us with His Holy Spirit and allowing us to gather together again.
We were blessed with testimony and special singing from Verna Jerrell, followed by the host church. We’ll all join in the triumph, when Deliverance has come. Palms of victory I shall wear. I’ve got so much to thank Him for, but I know I’m unworthy of it all. Now I am His, and He’s mine I know! He suffered it all, because He loved me.
Testimonies of thanksgiving were shared, and prayer requests were made for the lost, Shannon Williams, Pauline Harper, Bob and Anita Dixon, Brenda Bowlin, Jim Bowlin, Lisa Bowlin, Hershel, Betty, and Amy Baker, Kim Summey, Steve Minton, Steve Minton’s friend’s daughter, Linda Wallen, Ed Williams’s lost family members, Linda Lucas, Ricky Lucas, Randy Brown, Kay, Christopher, and Shawn Short, several sick at Poplar Grove, Phyllis Landworth, the elderly, Lois Taylor, Willie Meade, Jr., Dottie Ann Meade., several requests that the clerk could not hear to record, and many unspoken requests. Elder Tommy Meade led the congregation in prayer, asking God to heal the sick, bless those that need help, help our light to shine, and to bless our Association.
The delegation was called to order to transact the business.
It was motioned, seconded and voted to adopt the business proceedings of yesterday as read.
Elder Mike Fullington, having been chosen by the Committee on Religious Exercises, came forward to take the first part of the service. Elder Fullington read the first two verses of the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, using as a thought, “looking unto Jesus.” God showed us that there was nothing we could do to get into Heaven, but at the same time, He showed us Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We inherited Adam’s transgressions, but Jesus became sin so that we could have life, and there is no other way to get to Heaven. Look not at what we can do but look unto the One that holds it all in His hands, the one True and Living God, and the One who spoke the world into existence from nothing. He can’t be preached big enough.
Elder Scott Tipton came to take the second portion of the service, preaching from the same text and thought and from the first verse, “so great a cloud of witnesses.” God took care of the sacrifice for Abraham when he took Isaac up the mountain, and He will take care of us too. Even looking at the patriarchs, they failed just like we do, but God knew there was One who would not fail. We’re secure in Jesus, who prayed in the garden, asking that the cup might pass from Him, saying “not as I will, but as thou wilt”. He drunk our sin, and tasted death for all mankind. We’ll see Jesus one day sitting at the right hand of the Father. We had better look unto Him before that day comes. Death will come, but Jesus already defeated death. Have you taken Him by the hand and trusted Him with your life?
We were dismissed for lunch with songs and fellowship.
Laughter and smiles were abundant during the lunch recess, and they continued as we returned to the tent following a delicious meal provided by the host churches.
Brothers Bradley Brown, Marcel Bledsoe, and Elder Joseph Robinette led the congregation by singing the songs of Zion. The record’s clear today fore He washed my sins away. The old account was settled long ago. We’ll meet the One who saved us and kept us by His grace. Everybody will be happy over there. If we are prepared to meet Jesus the King, a wonderful time it will be in that sweet forever. I know that Jesus saved me, and that’s enough for me.
The moderator welcomed the congregation back from lunch, thanking the host churches for the wonderful lunch and thanking God for the wonderful service this morning.
God blessed His children during the special singing from Looking Beyond (Dennis and Karen Stewart with Roger VanHoose), David and Wanda Parsons with Ronnie Johnson and Scott Tipton, Wilma Bledose, and Peggy and Terry Sizemore. He’s my all and all. On Him I call. Face-to-face I shall see Jesus who saved me by His grace. Victory is won, so it’s a joy to know we’re nearing the shore. Eternity is just a breath away for this house made of clay. I’ll sing and I’ll shout when I reach that city.
Testimonies were shared thanking God for answered prayers and prayer requests were made for the lost, June Sybert, Burnice’s sister, Pam VanHoose’s father and sister, Penny VanHoose and her dad and children, Kenneth Cross, Sylvia and Wayne Gibson, and several requests the clerk missed, and unspoken requests all throughout the congregation. Elder Robert Brown came forward to lead us with a humble prayer, thanking God for his blessings and for the songs and testimonies that were shared, and asking Him to answer the prayer requests according to His will, to save the lost, and to bless the business.
The delegation was seated in order to transact the business.
Brother Danny Lawson, Chairman of the Committee on Church Letters, came forward stating the letter for Blue Springs (Hiltons) was received and reported on their state and standing. It was motioned, seconded, and voted to accept the recommendation of the committee and seat the remaining church into the voting body of the association.
The Letter Committee for 2023 was named: Ronnie Johnson (chairman), Dennis Stewart, David Horton, and Clifton Horne (alternate).
Brother Steve Hunt read the report from the Committee on Religious Exercises.
The clerk read the Resolution of Thanks that he had prepared. It was motioned, seconded, and voted to print it in the minutes as read.
The moderator reported that there were $5,870 in receipts for the year. We thank each church as they generously give to the Association year after year.
Elder Roger VanHoose, on behalf of the Committee on Newly Constituted Churches, reported that none had been received this year.
Elder Mike Fullington reported on behalf of the Committee on Obituaries that 33 have been received at this time. A reminder was given to include church membership or affiliation in each obituary and to strive to abide by the guidelines given in the minutes, keeping each to 10-14 typed lines. Each obituary is to be approved by the church before being submitted.
Elder Oscar Irvin, on behalf of the Committee on Arrangements and/or Queries, reported that none have been received.
The moderator noted that all committees are dismissed upon delivering their final report.
The men chosen to write the circular letter for 2022 were Elders Oscar Irvin, Curtis Hale, and Roger VanHoose. The three men came forward, and Elder Oscar Irvin read their letter. Its message was intended to be of help and encouragement to those that hear and read it. It was motioned, seconded, and voted to print the letter in our minutes as it was read.
The moderator appointed the Committee on Circular Letters for 2022 which includes: Brother Joe Horton and Deacons Roy Jones and Rodney Dodson.
Billy Marcum led the congregation in singing “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” as several volunteers took up an offering to be given as a donation to Little Cowan Church to help repair the church building following the flood. A generous donation of $1,416 was received.
The moderator reminded the delegation that only those chosen or appointed by their respective churches as delegates were allowed to vote, and the maximum number of votes per church was 4, if all delegates are present. Likewise, if only one delegate was present, then the church would only have one vote.
There were four churches that asked for the association to meet with them next year. These are Burke’s Union, Fairview (Bellbrook), and two churches together, being Poplar Grove and Willow Chapel. David Parsons, on behalf of Burke’s Union, stood and withdrew prior to the plea. They were wonderful hosts this year.
Jeff Huseby delivered the first plea on behalf of Fairview Church. Elder Oscar Irvin pled on behalf of Poplar Grove and Willow Chapel. Elder Jason Robinette sang and brought the second plea for Fairview to host the next Association. The last speaker was Scott Tipton, pleading for Poplar Grove and Willow Chapel.
Through the vote, the Association was sent to Poplar Grove and Willow Chapel, to be held on the grounds at Burke’s Union, where, the Good Lord willing, we will convene on the Thursday morning (October 5, 2023) before the first Saturday in October 2023 for the 171st gathering. The introductory and alternate sermons will be preached by Elders Oscar Irvin and Scott Tipton, respectively.
We were adjourned until Saturday morning, October 1, 2022.
God allowed us the privilege to gather once again for our memorial service. Brother Marcel Bledsoe, Elder Terry Sizemore, and Sister Wilma Bledose led the congregation in several songs of Zion. Some happy day my soul will be set free from sin. There’s nothing like an old time Christian with a Christian love to show. There’s a friend who walks with me; it is the Christ of Calvary. His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me. This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise, to seize the everlasting prize. It will be farewell to a land where we need to pray!
Elder Terry Sizemore welcomed everyone to our Saturday morning memorial service, asking that everyone obey the Lord and reminding that we should rejoice that the saints have gone on to that Better Land.
Special singing and testimony was shared by from David and Wanda Parsons with Kim Robinette and Wilma Bledsoe, Billy Marcum, and Null Lawson.
Testimonies and answered prayers were shared to glorify God and prayer requests were made for many that are lost, the sick, the elderly, Burnice Sybert, Shannon Williams, Steve Minton, Jason and Joseph Robinette, Sam VanHoose, Cora L. Neeley, June Fannon, Henrietta Adams, Billy Jack Johnson, Josh Hopkins, Linda Johnson, Virgie Grace’s family, the revival at Osborne’s Chapel, our churches, especially those that are small in number, several requests that the clerk couldn’t hear, and many unspoken requests. Brother Roy Jones lead us with a most humble prayer, thanking God for the power of prayer.
The delegation was seated in order to transact the business.
It was motioned, seconded, and voted to adopt the business proceedings of yesterday as read.
Elder David Parsons came to the stand on behalf of the host church giving thanks to God for being amongst us and to extend thanks to those in attendance. He also thanked Maynard and Cammy Bledsoe, Kenny Bledsoe, Cathy Hall, Food Lion, Food City, and Sams, all the ones that helped with setting up the tent and general labor, and the young people who were a blessing in their willingness to serve.
Brother Steve Hunt provided the final report of the Religious Exercises Committee.
It was stated that the Electrical and PA system, primarily Adam Lawson, could help get announcements on the website, if desired.
For many years, the Saturday morning service has been dedicated as a memorial service for those saints who have passed from among us. The moderator read the names of those saints that have moved on to their eternal home in the past year. Please remember their families in your prayers, and we thank God for the time we had with them.
Brother Phillip Little came to the stand to testify and sing about Jesus. Jesus is the light house that saves us from the rocks of sin. If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, this ship would be no more.
Terry Sizemore, who was chosen to take the first part fo the preaching service by the Committee on Religious Exercises, began by reading from the eleventh chapter of St. John, verses 11-26, using the thought, “Believest thou this?” Martha was cumbered by many things of the world, in which there was no benefit, but Mary chose the good part. The Jews came to comfort Mary and Martha, but real comfort cannot come from man, and real hope is not of this world. Jesus is alive and alive for evermore, and He’s our Hope out of this world. Those that have laid down this mortal house of clay will live again, but not in this world as it is now. When the Lord puts our name down in Heaven, it is there to stay. Death was defeated, and it has no hold on the people that know Jesus.
Elder Curtis Hale came to the stand to preach before the Association for his first time. Martha had heard about the resurrection and believed it. Do YOU believe it? Death will come to each of us, until Christ returns. There are two deaths, one of the soul and one of the body. You must die to your sins on this side of a natural death, being redeemed by the blood of Jesus, which was shed upon calvary. You must shed off the old man and accept the perfect sacrifice, the last one that would ever need to be made. Do YOU believe it? You don’t have to believe here, but you will there. You must accept the free gift to have the hope of Heaven. He is the Door, opened unto life. They rolled the stone away, and Jesus cried out to Lazarus. There’s another shout coming one day; the trump will sound, and the dead in Christ will rise. He died for us, so we could take part in His resurrection. When we die, all we need is Jesus. He loved us and gave us the perfect sacrifice, and all we have to do is believe on Him.
It has been a joyful meeting this morning and all week, and the Holy Spirit has certainly touched this service. It has been good, and we are thankful for His blessings.
We were dismissed with a song from Brother Clifton Horne. The congregation continued to sing, Brother Kevin Cross preached, and shouts were heard round about, as we were adjourned until Sunday morning, October 2, 2022.
God’s children gathered again inside Burke’s Union Church for the final service of the 170th annual meeting of the Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists.
Many from the host church stood on the alter and led the congregation in singing songs of the Goodness of Christ Jesus. Through His cleansing power we have Victory in Jesus. We have a Christian Love that we can show and tell everywhere we go.
Elder David Parsons came to the pulpit singing “That’s Enough for Me” and welcomed everyone to Burke’s Union this morning asking that everyone set the world aside to praise and worship the Lord.
Testimonies were shared and prayer requests were made for the lost, Elder Daniel Hurd, Betty Baker, those dealing with the loss of loved ones, Maynard Bledsoe, Ada McPherson’s sister, Brian McPherson, our children and grandchildren, each other, and many unspoken requests. Brother Bradley Bowen came to lead us to the throne of grace, as His people surrounded the alter to call upon the One True and Living God.
The congregation was blessed by special singing and testimony from Ada McPherson, Kala and Millie Jade Hale, among others. My hope is anchored in the Blood of Lamb. Through Him, I’m saved to the uttermost. Our God is a God of many miracles, but the most incredible must be the Miracle that rescued me.
Elder Chris Salley came forward to preach the first part of the service, stating it was a joy to be here in the presence of the Lord and thanking God for the understanding of His salvation. Elder Salley read the entirety of the first Psalm, using the first word as the thought: “Blessed”. We are a blessed people, begotten by the Word. The Scripture showed us where we stand with God, not redeemed, needing to be brought back to God through the Blood of Jesus. All we need to know is Christ and Him crucified. We’ve been raised from a dead state to a lively hope, and He loosed us from an eternal sentence in Hell. Now we’re alive and alive forevermore. Do you know Him in the power of His Resurrection? If you’re not sure, you need to make sure.
Elder Hunter Hensley came to take the second part of the preaching service, rereading the third verse of the same scripture along with the first four verses of Genesis 39. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, but God was with him, and he was prosperous because he followed God. God did the same for the three Hebrew children and for Daniel. Jesus told those disciples, Follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men. How do you become prosperous leaving your worldly livelihood? Promoting Christ to the lost and introducing them to Jesus is prosperous. Put your trust in God. We know how it’s going to end. He told us. John was exiled, but God showed him a vision. When we’re in a tough time, He’ll show us a glimpse of Heaven, too.
Elder David Parsons took the third and final part of the service. We have to be the fruit-bearers. He is the vine, and if we abide in Him, we’ll bring forth much fruit, becoming prosperous in Jesus. We need to shine into the world. We need good roots, rooted and grounded in Christ, to bear fruit, like love, joy, and peace. Prosperity in the Holy Spirit and in Jesus are what matters. God will purge the branches that don’t bear fruit. There is a lost and dying world that needs to see our light and needs to taste of the fruits. We can plant seeds of Jesus, so that many generations can continue in those blessings. Do they know you by the fruits you’re bearing?
The congregation sang several songs while they fellowshipped followed by a number of testimonies. Elder Parsons thanked each one for their attendance today and this week. Brother Danny Lawson dismissed this service with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
The blessings I’ve received from this year’s association were great in number, and I’m confident that many others have felt the same joy as I have. I pray that God will continue to bless us throughout the year and again here next year when we join Poplar Grove and Willow Chapel for the 171st annual session of our beloved Association.